Assam mill panel calls for probe

The mills have been lying non-functional and workers have not received their salaries for more than two years

By Swapnaneel Bhattacharjee in Silchar
  • Published 12.07.19, 1:25 AM
  • Updated 12.07.19, 1:25 AM
  • a min read
  •  
Cachar Paper Mill (Telegraph picture)

The HPC Paper Mills Revival Action Committee, a conglomerate of workers’ unions of the two paper mills in Assam, has demanded a high-level probe in connection with the investment of Rs 4,141 crore by the Centre in the HPC from 2014-18.

The mills — Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in Hailakandi district and Nagaon Paper Mill at Jagiroad in Morigaon district — have been lying non-functional since October 2015 and March 2017 respectively. Their workers have not received their salaries for more than two years.

Speaking to The Telegraph on Thursday, Manabendra Chakraborty, chief convener of the committee and president of the Cachar Paper Project Workers’ Union, said a report presented on July 9 by the Press Information Bureau (PIB), New Delhi, revealed that the Centre had given an amount of Rs 4,141 crore to the HPC during the period of 2014-18 (Rs 1,141 crore in 2014-15, Rs 1,000 crore in 2015-16, Rs 1,000 crore in 2016-17 and Rs 1,000 crore in 2017-18). “It is shocking that the mills have not been revived despite such massive investments,” he said.

Chakraborty, who has spearheaded several protests in Barak Valley over revival of the two mills, questioned why the pending amount of Rs 98 lakh was not paid (from the crores of rupees given by the Centre) to M/s Alloys and Metals, which had filed a case with the National Company Law Tribunal against HPC. “Why have the mills not been made functional and the workers’ salaries not paid till date? Where has the money gone?” he said.

He termed this as the “biggest scam” in the Northeast and suspected the amounts were siphoned off. He demanded that a high-level probe be conducted so that facts like where the money was spent or who looted the amounts comes to light.

Dipak Chandra Nath, general secretary of Cachar Paper Mill Officers’ and Supervisors’ Association, said all these years the mills’ workers had no idea that such huge amounts had been given to the HPC. “We were in the dark. The matter should be inquired thoroughly,” he said.

A senior official of Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited on Thursday said the PIB report was “false” and the government did not give Rs 4,141 crore.